Back in April 2017, I read the above beautifully written post – titled ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Devotion’ shared on my WordPress feed – written by Alex of Wildwood and Wild Hunt.
It is quite possibly the most profoundly succinct description of the devotional relationship with Deity that I have ever read, so I often find myself going back to it, and re-reading it…especially nowadays.
I am simply re-blogging – so please give Alex all of the praise.
“i. step, stumble. fall. your falling is sacred, but your rising again is glorious.
ii. step, stumble. fall. rinse, repeat. rinse, repeat. this is the secret they are all telling you, the mystery they are all hiding. one and the same thing, and all it amounts to is your beloved whispering in your ear don’t give up.
iii. tomorrow you will forget to love him. it does not matter. how old is he, how huge? days pass like drawing breath – he will still love you afterwards.
iv. scream, rage, collapse. the shrine dismantled and reassembled and dismantled again, but you are still his, and this is still sacred.
v. he is huge, dazzling, awe-inspiring. you think you saw his face, truly his face, peering from between branches yesterday. what have you got yourself into, what have you done? you think maybe you are crazy, you think maybe you should run.
vi. you are crazy. you do run. he finds you anyway. he burns through your veins like fire, and his finding is the sweetest moment since the last. it will not happen again.
vii. it does happen again. still he finds you, still the moment of finding is glorious. later you break down, you cannot keep doing this, he deserves more than this, the same faith he has shown you.
viii. he does not love you because he wants you to be a version of himself. he loves you for the self you are, and the self you will be.
ix. the next time you run, you find your own way back. he is waiting for you, joy spilling from him because this time he did not need to chase you.
x. love. love until your heart is raw, your voice is hoarse, and your lungs are fighting for breath. you can never love him enough, but you will go to your end trying.”
Hail Loki ❤
Here is an excellent meditation piece – with bindrune – recently shared to one of my FB groups
courtesy of the folks at Red Trillium Farm:
“Silent. Be still and know.
Find the quiet and empty places and all will fill you.
In the stillness, the gift will come.
Gebo: Gifts, given and received.
Ansuz: Wisdom, revelation.
A piece for deep meditation, clearing the mind, stilling the thoughts.
Become quiet and you will hear your answers.”
From Red Trillium Farm
Asbjorn Torval’s latest post on spirit animals brings up some good points regarding spirit animals, personal bias and what he terms ‘power play’ when considering why there are so many folks who choose wolves and bears as their spirit animals, and yet no one seems to choose cockroaches or rats.
Why indeed, and this post has given me much food for thought regarding my own experiences in that if I were to choose a spirit animal, I would likely choose the fox, the horse, or the raven
– and yet, if I were to be honest –
The reality seems to be that my spirit animals are
(L-R: Turkey vulture; Black vulture)
(L-R: angry possum; possum ‘playing dead’)
You see, ever since I began working with Loki – and then later (and at present) Odin – my life has become overrun with vultures and possums!
Did I expect the relentless presence of vultures and possums in my life?
Well, I cannot say that I did, and yet – much like the Gods Themselves – I find that my life is full of signs of their presence at every turn.
So what have all of these interactions with vultures and possums taught me?
As many long-time followers of this blog may recall that I have written of my mundane (and spiritual) experiences with vultures, I don’t think I have ever written about my interactions with possums.
I grew up in a rather rural town in Massachusetts. My father had quite a sizeable garden on the 1/2 acre property, and as you might imagine, I came across possums – both living and dead – quite often.
As a matter of fact, a dead possum was likely my first childhood experience with death – when, at the age of five or six years old – I found the very much dead body of a possum under an outdoor picnic table in the backyard. I remember my father explaining to me how sometimes possums would ‘play dead’ – just like I’d seen in cartoons – but that this one was really dead 😦
As well, my siblings and I would often come across live mama possums -with tiny babies – living in our root cellar, or trying to survive the winter by sneaking under the bulkhead stairs and into our basement. (I remember my older siblings and I learning to build a (humane) catch and release trap (courtesy of a Mark Trail book) for catching all the possums and other animals that snuck in, and how aggressively we competed with each other for the exciting and very honorable privilege of being the one who help our father carry the [occupied] trap into the woods to safely release whatever animal it had caught.)
But then, once I grew up and left home, I spent many years living in suburban areas and in bigger cities like Boston, Orlando, and Newark…and I didn’t see another possum for almost 25 years.
Fast forward to 2010, when my husband and I bought a house in a large Central Florida suburb…and I am telling you, I have never seen so many possums in all of my life.
In the month of July 2013 alone, I came across eight dead possums in my backyard; I swear that the vultures were bringing them – perhaps even dropping them – into my backyard, which is surrounded by a 6 foot privacy fence. Two of them were huge- larger than each of my three full grown house-cats – and even my 75 lb Labrador retriever was afraid to go near them. (They were very dead and very heavy – and the body of one of those particularly big ones would not fit on the scoop/blade of my largest shovel.)
And nowadays, I’ve seen a few (thankfully live) possums while walking my dogs at night, either trotting down the middle of my street, or perched on my next-door neighbor’s fence or in the tree overlooking their swimming pool.
My dogs go berserk and stand out there barking at them every time one of the possums show up- but I don’t think they even blink anymore
Most of those ‘What’s your Spirit Animal?’ websites (like this one) often portray Possum as a sort of trickster and problem solver:
So, considering best laid plans and all that…
Every time I see a vulture, I take it as a reminder that I need
And, oddly enough, when I see possums, I take it as a sign that I need to:
That being said, I think Vulture and Possum are my unexpected spirit animals
…and I imagine that they are here to stay.
This lovely poem was shared by a friend on my social media feed this morning, and though I was skeptical that its words ‘could change one’s life,’ I will grant that its overall message is rather profound one…and personally relevant.
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
– Jelaluddin Rumi,
Translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks
I love Brene Brown…even when she is throwing out some hard truths.
So you can gather what I am talking about, you might want to watch the video.
Y’see, I , too, am a ‘blamer.’
It’s true of me that when something bad happens, my first thought is often whose fault is this? – and, more often than not, I twist it in my head until I’ve found a reason for whatever happened.
I need to know why. I am a person that needs to know why.
Even if -more often than not – I end up blaming myself for whatever it is that happened in some way.
Yeah. I know that that’s unhealthy.
Yep, I thought that that was holding myself accountable.*
This mindfulness and this desire to hold myself accountable for myself and my reactions to bad things happening is often the way that my thoughts go. And I’ve had enough therapy to know that I’m only doing half the work, too, when I stop and actually think about it.
Why is it only half the work?
Because the full work would be the realization and implementation of the fact that some bad things happen because they are random. Sometimes there is no reason.
Yes, it’s true that sometimes bad things happen because someone wasn’t mindful of themselves or others – and I include myself in that – and rash decisions get made. Things get broken, or feelings get hurt, or what have you, and often emotions fuel those decisions.
But the key is – the process of thinking that there has to be reason somewhere. That there has to be a reason, there has to be a fault. And that there has to be this endless overthinking and wasting of time and resources trying to figure out why something is, why something happened, or what led to this or that result.
As Brown points out, the fault-finding and blame is a discharge of discomfort and a desire for control of the situation, including getting control of one’s emotions and reactions.
And that gets me to thinking about my zen Buddhist therapist who speaks a continuous refrain of how I need to work on letting shit go, learning that the only person one can control is oneself and one’s reactions to the world, and the constant reminder that the only moment is the present moment. He talks endlessly of the fact that the present is the only moment in which we can live, and how when one has realized this, and one focuses on mindfulness and control of oneself in the present moment, only then can one create inner peace and happiness.
Oh yes, it gives me a headache sometimes…this zen business. The letting go, the reactive vs. proactive paradigm, the mindfulness — so much jargon. I cannot deny that this all feels exhausting sometimes, and I’ll admit that I fall back upon ingrained reactive habits and value judgments, and and and….*sigh*
I wallow in self-blame, another waste of time.
I seek control.
But the only control I seek in the end is self-control.
*This video opens my eyes to the mistake I’ve made concerning what accountability is.
I found this article by Erin Pavlina this afternoon, and I thought that I would share.
It explains rather succinctly a connection that I’ve been struggling with understanding concerning karma and the Universe.
Mostly, this article inadvertently answers why it is probable that we as spiritual human beings keep running into the same situations in life over and over, and what that has to do with karma.
The part that hit me the most profoundly was this:
“Karma is about being given the opportunity to change your vibration and attract something different. No one is going to inflict that upon you, but the universe will bring you ample opportunities to choose a different path.
So if you’re holding out hope that something bad will happen to another person, you’re better off releasing, forgiving, and moving on, otherwise you will attract new opportunities that involve you needing to forgive someone. Are you catching my drift here?
If you are constantly wishing negative things will happen to those who wrong you, the universe will constantly bring you people who wrong you so you can continue wishing negative things will happen to them. That’s your vibration. That’s your karma. That’s what the universe thinks you want since that’s what you’re always thinking about.
Karma is not punishment, it’s not revenge, it’s not justice. Karma is the universe giving you opportunities to alter your vibration. Do with that what you will.”
How this relates to my present situation is that I have wondered for quite a while now why I keep getting thrown into situations wherein I keep finding myself feeling echoes of the past – people I’ve hurt, people that have hurt me, and the corresponding situations that I would rather not think about.
Perhaps in focusing on the pain of what I’ve been through, I am constantly re-opening the wounds rather than doing anything to heal them.
Perhaps this is what brought Him to me: my latest spiritual work – in working with the God that I Had Promised Myself that I Would Never Work With – I have been forced to confront all the reasons why I had refused to work with Him for so long.
I began to see that the only way to move forward was to confront the lesson that kept being presented to me over and over in seeing His face, and the echoes of that premise: If you expect a monster, you will get a monster.
Yes, He is still capable of being a monster.
But the only way to move forward in my spiritual practice is to engage with Him.
And I am engaging with Him.
The only way out is to go through.
Here’s a Thursday Throwback – from 21 February 2013 – that I am sharing at the request of a dear friend.
“Sometimes, He is not pretty.
Disheveled, stinking of piss and filth.
A frightening homeless man
Shouting at me from the other side of the train station:
The face that you often see is nothing but a glamour crafted to be pleasing to you.
But, sometimes, I am tired of that
face, and you will see Me as I am
An ancient being, whose face bears the ravages of time, and what appalling marks
Grief, pain and madness have inevitably made upon Me.
While it may be easy to approach Me in a finer guise,
Silk cravats and topcoats, leather and flash, I am
Also this, at My core. This is also Me.
I am bloated with rage, and careless
grime settled in the creases, compulsively licking
The blood and the spittle that collects at the corners of My ragged lips.
My yellowed, broken teeth have gnawed and ground down upon the offal and
bones of My very long memory.
I call to you
but you must approach Me.
Would you kiss My mouth?
And I see Him across the room, and His voice is interwoven with the cacophony of noise that is noon at South Station, Boston.
I cannot will my feet to go forward, but I see His eyes, the intense clear blue of Icelandic water, His disheveled hair an awkward penumbra of red and gold, His face unshaven and streaked with the filth born of having slept in the elements upon concrete. He raises a hand, and makes a beckoning gesture. Oh I see you, little one, He drawls. I notice that His fingernails are dark with grime, and He smiles, a grin of wolfen teeth, and He licks His cracked lips, waiting.
For all that He looks, His voice is not unpleasant.
But I am afraid.
I am cold, I realize, and I hug myself tighter, as if my own arms could possibly warm me enough, and yet I know that I am holding myself in. This is me putting up all my walls and fronts.
You have so much shame, He shouts, You have learned nothing….
The rumble of the trains pulling into South Station obscures His voice, His tirade, for several minutes.
There are too many trains, I shout, I cannot hear!
He begins to laugh, shaking His head. He tilts His head, almost menacingly, working out a crick in His neck, as He continues, Oh no, my dear. It is as it is always, with you. You are too cold. You cannot hear. You have a headache. You are afraid….
He glares at me.
He pulls a cigarette from the pocket of His shabby, unseasonably thin coat. Oh, spare Me the details of all of your excuses, He snarks at me, loudly, angrily.
He reminds me of Heath Ledger’s Joker, as He wipes His sore and tattered mouth with the back of His grubby hand, before placing the cigarette deftly on the edge of His lower lip, and lights it.
A lone ribbon of smoke curls and spirals ever upward over His head, strangely unbroken and unbuffeted by the crowd and activity that surges about Him, between us.
Come. Kiss Me. I might believe you.
But I cannot will my feet to go forward. I will have to push myself through this crowd, I am thinking.
The air feels thick and heavy, my head rings with high-pitched buzzing anxiety, and my skin prickles with heat.
Poor little girl, is His singsong sigh, half a sarcasm, half a reprimand, to me, as He shuffles His feet, waiting.
Come to me, He whispers, more within my head than without, and His words seem to reverberate like a humming inward chant, in my head.
Come to Me.
Come to Me.
Come to Me.”